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'Open Concept' Is the New Formal Dining Room for the Holidays

Zillow Research

Holiday dinners in formal dining rooms may be becoming a thing of the past as buyers embrace more casual open concept living spaces.

Zillow research finds the share of for-sale listings mentioning open concept layouts – in which walls are removed to combine the kitchen, living room and dining room into a single great room – has more than doubled since 2015, while the share of listings mentioning a formal dining room has slightly dipped.

Among the top 35 metro areas, homes for sale with formal dining rooms continue to be more common and more expensive than homes with open concept layouts.  But the price difference has been cut in half, and the gap in the share of listings has considerably shrunk over the past five years.

It isn't clear whether open concept layouts are becoming more common or if they have simply become a more popular selling feature and therefore are mentioned more often in listings and command a higher price.

Open concept living areas really appeal to younger, millennial buyers who aspire to a different lifestyle than their parents' generation.  Millennials make up the largest group of home buyers and they want to live and entertain in a more casual way.  As they become parents, open concept living areas allow them to keep an eye on their young children while they're preparing meals.

Zillow analyzed listing descriptions in the country's largest 35 metros from March to August of 2015 and 2019 and identified those that mention formal dining rooms using terms like "formal," "private" or "separate" dining room, and listings that mention "open concept."

Among the top 35 metros, the share of listings that mention a formal dining room is 8.6% in 2019, a slight dip from 8.8% in 2015. By contrast, in 2015, only 2% of listings mentioned open concept, but the share of listings with this feature jumped to 5% in 2019.

The share of listings mentioning open concept rose in all 35 markets examined. Dallas saw the greatest percentage point increase at 5.2.  Meanwhile, the share of formal dining mentions in listings decreased in 21 out of the top 35 markets, with Los Angeles leading the way with a 4.5 percentage point decrease over the past five years.

This year, five metro areas had more open concept listing mentions than formal dining room mentions: Seattle, Boston, San Diego, Portland and Dallas.  Boston leads all metros with 10.7% of for-sale listings mentioning open concept.  Houston takes the top spot for listings with formal dining rooms with 16.7%.

 

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